Nice, France, one-day trips in Provance or how to bring more joy to your vacation in the south of France. Part 2


Urban sketching. Travel, Architecture and Art.

In this post I would like to talk about some one-day trips from Antibes or Nice. For me, sitting in one place and swimming in the sea, enjoying sunny beaches and cuisine is fine for a couple days, then I need more. Provencal cities are so close to each other by distance and are so rich in history, art and architecture, it would be a “crime” not visit some of the local small towns in the neighborhood.

Provencal ceramic tableware with sun-drenched harmony of Provence in single handmade plates with vibrant colours found in the South of France and Italy

Our Provencal Itinerary. This trip was started in Nice – Grasse – Mougins – Moulins d’Opio – Waterfalle sur Loup -Tourrettes du Loup- Gourdon.

We always travel by train or bus… but this time we decided to save our time and travelled with a tour operator.

Old Train station in Nice was recently renovated – it seems to beinviting to join one of the most beautiful cities that is conveniently located near the sea.

Our tour started from Nice. You might be picked up from your hotel by the tour operator. In our case we lived in Antibes. As an option, a driver could pick you up from your city, with an additional cost. We decided to take a train from Antibes to Nice, just 10 -15 min, cost 4 Euros and another reason to visit Nice.

Blue train brings people to Mediterranean Sea every day

The 1st stop was in Grasse, the capital of perfumery. According to the legend of the 17th century, the city had numerous leather shops and the skin was soaked with flower essences to remove an unpleasant odour, and thanks to Louis XIII and his beautiful wife Anna of Austria, a Spanish-born queen… she provided some Spanish and Arab secrets of perfumed skins. So perfumes came to us from the city of Grasse. You might want to visit Parfumerie Fragonard.

The whole city is covered in flowers; a local perfume factory acquaints visitors with its spirits. During our previous visit to Grasse several years ago, we walked several times through the local central square near the town hall to admire the views of the mountains from a huge cliff. It was blooming with floral aromas, the local fountain freshened the air with water. And only then I realized that the fountain was spraying perfumed water.

Sketch of our excursions perfume factory and olive store at Le Moulin D’Opio, Opio. Legendary Fragonard was the mayor of the city. The city has the Fragonard Museum is located at: 14 rue Jean Ossola, Hotel de Villeneuve, Grasse

Some interesting facts about Fragonard: he was the artist and pioneer of the Rococo style. There is a famous painting “The Swing” by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Fragonard was a distant relative of my beloved impressionist artist Bertha Morisot. We visited museum D’Orsay in Paris this year, Morisot’s personal exhibition in the museum. Stay tuned for more information on it in my future posts.

The next town we visited was Mougins, is a city of art galleries and artist’ workshops. On a small plaza, I saw a mysterious lady in a beautiful hat near the city’s legendary museum.

The city has a famous Mougins’ Museum of Classical Art; it’s a private museum and costs14 Euros (2019) but it’s worth it. Address: 32 Rue Commandeur, Mougins. The Mougins museum has the world’s largest private collection of antic helmets.  I never would have thought that there was such a variety of helmets.

In the museum, the lighting was dark so my sketches reflect the overall impressions of the gloom.  I like to observe museums’ visitors; it shows the general impression of direction of exhibits in museum. We visited the museum on Monday when there were no visitors so the whole museum was ours. I was surprised to see such a rich collection outside the Louvre or British Museums.

One of my artistic goals is to paint the combination of houses, people, café, streets, landscapes, food, Provencal ice creams: everything is in one bottle of flavour that brings together the image of a city or place.

On the way to the city, our tour operator told us about an interesting annual festival ‘International Gastronomy Festival of Mougins’, or ‘Les Étoiles de Mougins’. The festival used to be an event that brought lots of tourists and media attention to the town of Mougins. However, effective this year it was decided to hold the festival in other cities in the world and send Mougins’ Michelin chefs to the festival to demonstrate the culinary art of the city’s chefs. So, understandably, the residents of the city are disappointed and would like to return the tourists to their city. To get here, you can take a train/bus from Antibes or Nice. At the end of this post, I will provide instructions on how to get to this town.

Our next visit was a small place at Moulin d’Opio mill, with its olive grove and a small store. When you visit this place, you will immediately remember Van Gogh’s painting.   Its owners are the fifth generation of this family; they were telling us how olive oil is produced for many centuries and we tested different varieties of olives, French oil, tapenade on toast and drinks.

I would never have thought that I would try olive oil on its own. It was an interesting experiment.


Stroll through the medieval streets and admire the stone façades and fragrant flowers of some of the prettiest settlements in France.

One of local legends says that the English Queen Victoria was driving through on a donkey with her staff, and after this uneasy journey, she ordered to build a road to this town so that everyone could see the beauties of this place. And it was completed, so now you can enjoy them too. The main square of the town is named after the Queen.

As you walk around town, you will notice violets everywhere: painted on the asphalt in the ice cream… Violet ice cream was a pleasant discovery for me, it’s worth coming to this mountainous town just for its sake!

The next stop was Mountain waterfalls that called Cascades du Saut du Loup. From French language saut du loup means the mouth of wolf.

I don’t know what kind of mouth of a wolf it is; I personally saw a huge muzzle of an orang-utan in the rocks.

The highest town of our trip was Gordon and its magnificent castle perched 750 meters above sea level on rocks.

A little comment regarding the tour. Part of our goal for this trip was to see Provencal lavender fields but our tour operator, driver and a cheerful guide in one, dashingly driving a car along the mountain spiral roads of Provence, said that there was a mistake and it would take another hour to get to the lavender fields from this town. There are 2 similar cities- Gourdon and Gordes, there are 2 different places and tour company made an error  … well we have a reason to come back! It was our joke throughout this long day; we were looking for lavender bushes or small patches of planted lavender saying “Well here’s lavender! “and laughing.

The locals told us that in previous years the lavender fields really bloomed around the town, but one year it was a cold winter and lavender bushes could not survive. And after that, they were not planted again, what a pity!

Serpentine mountain road that leads to mountain towns Gourdon and Tourrettes-sur-Loup, the medieval town…and in the sky we saw a cloud “goose”.

And then on another direction, the second trip was a separate one-day independent trip from Antibes to Cannes and Le Cannet.

Provence is famous for its art museums in every small town or village. Le Cannet is a small suburb of Cannes. In North America this suburb would be part of a big city, for example GreaterToronto or GreaterVancouver.

The Central Train Station in Cannes is located in the heart of the city. To get there, take the bus #  Bus Palm’Express n°1 and within 10 minutes, you will reach Le Cannet’s famous museum Bonnard.  Address: 16 boulevard Sadi Carnot, 06110 Le Cannet

House-museum artist Bonnard. Bonnard lived in Le Cannetfor25 years and created his Provencal paintings, saturated with sunlight, light and air.  We were waiting for an exhibition that just opened during our vacation in Antibes. The temporary exhibition of collection Nahmad (De L’Impressionisme À Bonnard et Picasso) represented the Impressionist artists and organically blended into the permanent collection of Bonnard museum.

The city Cannes we visited on our way back to Antibes.

We were planning to visit Cannes’ famous Red Carpet

in my picture the celebrities’ prints go to the sky like a road up

The topography of the area is a mountainous terrain and if you are not a fan of renting car in a foreign country, there are a few alternatives to driving.

The first option is the train. They are convenient, quick, comfortable, inexpensive, and all trains have an efficient schedules with small gaps in between 2 trains. For example, from Nice to Grasse the train’s cost was 10 Euros (2019). However, this option has a disadvantage that you rarely can get to see small towns by trains.

 The second option is the bus. The advantage of buses is that their routes are reaching even the smallest mountain towns, and this is the cheapest option. The inconvenience is that sometimes you have to take a transfer between interregional buses and local city’s buses and most importantly, the bus trip will be longer than any train.

The third option is a combination of the first two OR a travel company. If your goal is visiting several small mountain towns within 1-2 days then local or international tour operators might be a good alternative for you. At the end of this post a link to Viator as an example of a tour.

Tools used for my painting Watercolour used Charvin and Van Gogh brands, Derwent watercolour pencils and Faber Castell artist pens. Paper Strathmore Watercolour and Mixed Media albums, 15×20 cm (6×8 in.)

Bon voyage! Until the next travel:)

All paintings belong to the author. No image is to be copied without permission.

You can visit my personal website pages here and find out more about the artwork I am offering in oil and watercolor paintings; purchase canvas prints, framed prints, and more artwork.

 How to get from Antibes to Le Mougins. Take Train to Cannes, then bus to Mougins. Lines 25-27. Cannes – Ranguin <> Gare Routière des Messugues <> Collège Eganaude – Sophia Antipolis, par Mougins

How to get from Antibes to Le Cannet . Take train Antibes to Cannes, bus #1 and 4(?), 15 min =10 stops to Musee Bonnard, Bus Palm’Express n°1, arrêt « Mairie du Cannet

Town of Grasse.

Moulin d’Opio Address 2, route de Châteauneuf, OPIO

Mougins museum


Town Gordon

Le Cannet museum

Urban sketching. Antibes, France. Itinerary for seeing one of the gem in Provence. Travel and art. Part 1.


Going to Antibes in France… Why Antibes?

What is the beauty and goodness of Provence?

I will tell about the beauty of Provence based on our experience and long relationship of 10 years that we hope will continue for many years…
We felt in love the Mediterranean coast of France and their towns at once and always come back here again and again.

Toronto- Paris- Antibes itinerary, 2019. Our voyage’s feeling always started from an airport door.

People are free from problems, little life concerns, they are in between countries, continents, air is full of vibrant mixture of cultures, customs, nationalities. (my favourite scene with Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan in movie “French kiss” the take off scene Everything is behind you…)

Freedom of speaking with temporary neighbours is everywhere on a road, at any airport especially during international flights is driving my happiness as the travelling artist.

This flight was with Air France. Especially I enjoy their safety movie with five young beauties that reminds me French movie Eight Women with Catherine Deneve, Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Bėart….classic chic madams and mademoiselles and their flared dresses and coloured shoes, beautiful and stylish, back in time.

The safety video shows in funny way usually regular boring but must-be learning process. Why not be entertaining and have safety training explanation at once? 🙂

You might enjoy watching this video “Consignes de sécurité Air France – Bienvenue à bord” on YouTube:

a view from airplane above Mediterranean Sea and colourful land near Nice airport

In Provence, south of France there are lots intercity buses, both speedy and local, between Nice airport and Cote d’Azur towns.

We took bus #250 that goes every 30 min from Nice airport to Antibes and then continues to Cannes, I highly recommend taking the express bus. It will save your time and energy especially on the first day of your vacation after flight.(information about the bus on the bottom of post)

I started to do my sketches right away 🙂 My watercolour painting is done with Provençal magic watercolour box Charvin. In the Nice’s store I hesitated to buy ALL of them. Finally, 12 clear sea and old Provençal roofs’ building colour paints were chosen, and the owner unexpectedly gave me one additional for luck:) Thank you, I will come back soon.


French Riviera Beach painting on Salis beach (Plage de la Salis)

I will tell you about this wonderful place with some notes as traveller and my artist’s paintings and drawings of the Antibes, one of the Mediterranean French coast’s city with its legends, friendly people, museums, yummy food, sunny beaches, warm sea and the main important personally for me with artists’ paths.;

Let’s start with one of the Antibes’ legends is about Napoleon’s family. Locals are saying that Napoleon’s mother and his sisters lived in Antibes. It is not confirmed in fact but the locals even added some explanation on a house’s sign, below is the photo from this place.

Antibes beaches with its mild colours, tender rose, blue and violet painting. I was painting this view of local houses and beach with hill surroundings. The long path leads to next town Juan les Pins, our favourite two long sandy beaches, Ponteil and Salis.

I was painting sea’s stones on Antibes’ beach. This type of sketches is relaxing time spending…

Antibes is town with lots of energy and has “all in one”.

Old city of Antibes is full of charm, under south sun all houses look like gold buildings, and flowers are covering their walls.;

Antibes has the Archaeological museum, see below the map of the Ville d’Antipolis, how Romans used to call it.

One day visited this small museum archaeological museum even without translation into English, I learned about the ancient history of this place. It was the former settlement of the Greeks, then the Romans, the Etruscans and then Galls.  There are lots of underwater amphorae and wrecks off Antibes with once fine wine were raised from the bottom of the sea.

Another legend is the Etruscan learned to make wine residents of Provence’s French Galas. Interesting, isn’t it?:)

I drew one of their works of pottery’s art Etruscan vase.

10 years ago I felt for the Etruscan culture that had gone into oblivion and read some books about Etruscan culture by Jean-Paul Thuillier, Nemirovsky and Jean-Noel Robert. It opened my eyes to many things and historical events. After this we visited special Etruscan museum, villa Medici in Rome, also our local Toronto’s museum ROM has the Etruscan section has also some good exponents.

Etruscan faces on painting what remained of the exhibits expressed the display of the personality, individuality of a person’s traits. After the influence of Greek culture it started to be prettier but faceless personal features.

Another fascinated story of Antibes is about connection between the city of Antibes and Impressionism, the new art movement in 19th century. It started from Monet, my favourite artist and the creator of impressionism style. I have read book Monet and the Mediterranean book written by Joachim Pissarro several years ago that actually opened for me the city of Antibes.

Monet stayed in Antibes for 5 months in 1988 and painted lots of paintings from this place, “Antibes seen from La Salis”, “Morning at Antibes”, Gardener’s House at Antibes”,”Antibes seen from Plateau Notre-Dame, “The Gulf of Antibes”,”View of the Bay and Maritime Alps at Antibes” and others. Monet wrote to his wife Alice “What I will bring back from here will be pure, gentle sweetness.”

Winding paths, a view of the ancient city, the silver-violet color of the mountains that are visible in the distance, inviting for a romantic walk.

Old pines are handed close over the path, setting beyond the horizon highlights the sea and the city in distance.

There are some artists discovered this amazing city and landscape around it. Long path near Antibes is very popular among impressionists and post impressionists like Monet, Sisley, Cross, Signac. Their artworks made this town famous.

Everywhere on a long path you might see lots of reproductions of artists. They are standing exactly on the places where they created by different artists. This place inspired many artists and me, and might probably invite you to visit you for travelling and producing some art works.

Once came to France for our family summer vacation, my husband invented a new expression as “Gourmet Immigration”, such as a brilliant discover term. I hope we will implement it in the future.

Chocolate olives in chocolate, chic, isn’t it? Full impression that it is OLIVES. No, no, no, no, no, no! It is dark and milk chocolates in the form of black and green olives

Two ladies, maybe sisters or friends may offer any French chocolate treats. They seem like mistress of Antibes’ chocolate makers with mouth-watering chocolate or as legendary Mistress of the Copper Mountain that had everything who loves chocolate, only instead of minerals, their product made from chocolate.

Note. Mistress of the Copper Mountain is also known as the Malachite Maid, is a legendary creature from Slavic myths and a fairy tale character, the mountain spirit from the legends of the Ural miners and the Mistress of the Ural Mountains, she is depicted as a beautiful green-eyed young woman in a malachite gown.

Picasso Museum.

I’m not really a fan of Picasso but his story of living in the Antibes is joyful. Picasso lived here after the Second World War when everybody’s feelings were happy because of the end of world war.  Picasso drew local women Antibes, and one of his famous painting is Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon). Then suddenly he decided to learn something new, but again in his style. It was start of the new era of Picasso’s pottery.

My favourite Picasso’s expressions from this period are “I have spent my whole life knowing how to draw like a child” (J’ai mis toute ma vie à savoir dessiner comme un enfant) and “I do not seek, I find” (Je ne cherche pas, je trouve).;

Picasso decided to learn how to make sculptures from scratch when the local pottery master visited Picasso’s exhibition. It turned out to be 7 years of relationship when the famous artist learned from very basic vases in his 70th at the local workshop that leaded to create the great and individual recognizable art works. 

Picasso learned it for many years, and yes, it was free of charge training. However, from his side, the workshop might copy Picasso’s pottery art works originally made in this place for a certain number of times and sell this art works. They are saying that the agreement is still in force. Picasso began with simple vases, and then went on to do art in direction. Some sculptures you might see in the Antibes museum. Museum Picasso. Chateau Grimaldi, Place du Chateau, Antibes 06600

I’ve drawn and later finished with watercolours some of his vases. This is the advantage to being an artist, you might not allow doing photo but pencil sketch is fine for museum’s rules. Voilà!

Antibes’ locals love cats; there are some signs on the doors in the Old Town. I drew them on the location.

The market in the Antibes is particularly remarkable. Baguettes and croissants, handmade early in the morning, are sold at the market quickly. On the market you can buy real Antibes wine and Pâté de Foie Gras (goose liver) with coloured ripe vegetables and fruits Marche provencal . Address: 27 cours Massena, Antibes

Famous Gelateria is just next to the Market.

Our favourite bakery was near our Royal Antibes hotel, great place that you might enjoy very close distance to Salis and private Royal beach with restaurant on it.

The bakery is just next to the beach, named La-brasserie-de-lillette. I would like to note that inside of the small store that sell croissants and other bakeries, customers are not allowed to be in their swimsuits even its a min away from the beach, please respect the “Queen” –French baguette.

Sunset in French Riviera, Antibes

You get up at 7 in the morning and you go to meet the dawn. Nowhere in the world there is no such beauty.

We visited more than 30 locations in Provence in last 10 years, and I am enjoying to paint on location, and Antibes is the city you might enjoy travel and paint with Joie de Vivre (a feeling of enjoyment of life)

Bon voyage! Until the next travel:)

All paintings belong to the author. No image is to be copied without permission.


You might visit my personal website pages and find out more about the artwork I am offering in oil and watercolor paintings; purchase canvas prints, framed prints, and more artwork.

Nice Art Store., address 39 rue Gioffredo, 06000

Tools used for my painting Watercolour used Charvin and Van Gogh brands, Pastel GrayPas Expressionist, Derwent watercolour pencils and Faber Castell artist pens. Paper Strathmore Watercolour and Mixed Media albums, 15×20 cm (6×8 in.)

Brasserie  la-brasserie-de-l-illette24 boulevard Marechal Leclerc, Antibes 06600.

Antibes’ chocolate store . Le Comptoir de Mathilde, votre épicerie fine/chocolaterie à Antibes. Address 20, rue de la RépubliqueAntibes

Antibes’ Gelateria

Royal Antibes Hotel,residence

Train sites

Below is information information for Nice express bus

For daily trips I recommend to buy the “Ticket Azur” that allow you to take two transport networks in succession, to complete a journey, including one change between one of the lines on the Departmental Council’s TAM network and a line on one of the following networks: Envibus (Antibes and surrounding area), Communauté de la Riviera Française (Menton and surrounding area), Sillages (Grasse and surrounding area), Bus Varmer (Carros and surrounding area), Ligne d’Azur (Nice and surrounding area), Bus Azur (Cannes and surrounding area)